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PR(06)61: The EFTA Surveillance Authority accepts the continuation for the period of 2007 – 2013 of the special tax regime introduced in 2002 for certain natural gas developments in Northern Norway

19.12.2006

By decision today, the Authority has decided not to raise objections to the continuation for the period of 2007-2013 of the special tax regime for certain natural gas developments in the north of Norway laid down in the Norwegian Petroleum Tax Act.

The scheme has previously been notified to and approved by the Authority by Decision No 90/02 of 31 May 2002. In that Decision the Authority also approved the only project yet to have benefited from the scheme, the so-called Snøhvit-project.

The scheme concerns an arrangement whereby companies investing in large-scale plants for liquefaction of natural gas located in the northernmost part of Norway may defer tax payments by recording extra high depreciation costs in the years immediately following the investment.

In its Decision from May 2002, the Authority concluded that the tax advantages resulting from the accelerated depreciation regime was state aid within the meaning of the EEA Agreement. However, the Authority held that the aid was compatible with the EEA Agreement as the scheme would only be applicable in a region qualifying for regional investment aid according to the Authority's Guidelines on Regional Aid.

The Authority has today assessed the scheme on the basis of the new Regional Aid Guidelines contained in Chapter 25B of the Authority's State Aid Guidelines, and has concluded that the scheme is compatible with these rules. In particular, the eligible area corresponds to a zone eligible for regional aid according to the new Regional Aid Guidelines and to the Authority's Decision No 226/06 of 19 July 2006 on the map of assisted areas and levels of aid in Norway.

New projects that are to benefit from the scheme will have to be notified to the Authority if the relevant investments exceed EUR 100 million.

 

For further information, please contact:

Mr. Amund Utne, Director, Competition and State Aid Directorate,
tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 50; or

Ms. Marie Wiersholm, Officer, Competition and State Aid Directorate,
tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 65.

19 December 2006




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